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Main building phase starts at Preston’s Animate entertainment and leisure complex

Posted on - 11th January, 2023 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Business, Preston Bus Station, Preston City Centre, Preston Council, Preston News, Redevelopment
An artist's impression of how Animate will look
An artist’s impression of how Animate will look

Key partners behind the £45m Animate leisure and entertainment complex in Preston city centre have met on site to mark the start of the main construction phase.

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Eric Wright Construction will deliver Animate on behalf of development partners Preston City Council and Maple Grove Developments.

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The construction works include improved pedestrian access between Animate and the Bus Station, which is part of a wider Harris Quarter scheme.

The project is funded and owned by Preston City Council with support from the Towns Fund (£3.4m) and City Deal (£3.25m).

Complementary public realm improvements such as improved landscaping and street lighting are being supported by a Lancashire County Council Economic Recovery Grant (£800,000).

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Located within the Harris Quarter, the scheme is already 75 per cent pre-let.

It includes an eight-screen cinema, a bowling alley, national and regional restaurant brands, a street food hub, 164 space car park, an outdoor terrace for al fresco dining, and a Changing Places facility.

Read more: Preston Markets cinema Animate signs up three restaurant chains

Cllr Matthew Brown, Leader of Preston City Council, said: “Animate is at the heart of our diversification plans for the city centre, strengthening the cultural and leisure offer, attracting more people into the city, for a wide variety of reasons that the whole family can enjoy, for longer into the evening.

“Animate will remain in the ownership of Preston City Council and is a key addition to our Community Wealth Building agenda.

“The development is not only a catalyst for attracting further investment into the city, but working in partnership with Maple Grove Developments, and through implementing a renewed progressive approach to procurement, we have an opportunity to work more closely with a skilled local supply chain, throughout the life of the programme, working towards our shared vision for a more inclusive Preston economy.”

Read more: Neglected part of Preston to be transformed into social and cultural destination

The construction and development phase will help to generate up to 200 full time equivalent construction jobs for the local workforce, and provide opportunities for apprenticeship, work placements, training and upskilling
through Eric Wright Group’s corporate and social responsibility programme.

A dedicated Animate Community Benefit Framework has been agreed between Preston City Council and Maple Grove Developments. It will deliver 15 community benefits, in line with Preston’s Community Wealth Building programme, to assist the delivery of the project and to provide the maximum impact for Preston’s residents and businesses.

The Community Benefit Framework seeks to use local labour, provide training, employment, volunteering opportunities and placements within local colleges, promote environmental sustainability, and ensure that all
workers are treated equally and fairly.

Animate will also provide more than 140 long term jobs when it opens to the public following a two-year construction phase.

L-R: Chris Blackburn PCC, Peter Thomas LCC, Anne-Marie Parkinson LEP, Matthew Friedmann Eric Wright Construction, John Chesworth Preston Partnership, Julie Palmer PCC, Karen Hirst Maple Grove Developments, Chris Hayward PCC, Cllr Matthew Brown PCC, Adrian Philips PCC, Andrew Dewhurst Maple Grove Developments, Nick Hague Maple Grove Developments
L-R: Chris Blackburn PCC, Peter Thomas LCC, Anne-Marie Parkinson LEP, Matthew Friedmann Eric Wright Construction, John Chesworth Preston Partnership, Julie Palmer PCC, Karen Hirst Maple Grove Developments, Chris Hayward PCC, Cllr Matthew Brown PCC, Adrian Philips PCC, Andrew Dewhurst Maple Grove Developments, Nick Hague Maple Grove Developments

John Chesworth, Chair of Preston Partnership said: “As one of the key Town Deal projects and central to the £200m Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme, Animate will help to regenerate the Harris Quarter
and support the Council’s commitment to Preston’s City Investment Plan 2035.

“It will complement further investment in the Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library, flexible office space for local businesses in Amounderness House, and a dedicated space for Preston’s younger community at the Youth Zone.”

Read more: Plans for Preston Youth Zone show vast range of recreation and support facilities

Andrew Dewhurst, director at Maple Grove Developments, said: “A huge amount of work over many years has got us to this point and credit must go to the city council, as well as the wider project team for their determination and drive in making sure plans become a reality.

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“There are now nearly two years of construction work ahead of us on the site of the former markets but the benefits Animate will bring to Preston once it is open will make it certainly worth the wait.”

Jeremy Hartley, managing director at Eric Wright Group, said: “As a local business with a long-standing history of supporting improvement to our North West towns and communities we are very proud to now be in a position to deliver this leisure-led scheme for the people of Preston to use and enjoy.”

Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines

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